A Halloween Conspiracy by Lbilover

A blend of movie & book verse and a quite liberal interpretation of how hobbits might have celebrated Halloween :-)


Halloween wasn’t the same without Bilbo, Frodo thought as he arranged an armful of corn stalks on one side of the front door of a too-quiet Bag End. The old hobbit had loved everything about the day, but especially the sight of the tiny hobbit lads and lasses wending their way up the path to the smial, tripping over the hems of their costumes and clutching their trick-or-treat sacks in fingers sticky from the sweets they’d already consumed.


Bilbo had always greeted them at the front door dressed in some elaborate costume of his own design (Frodo remembered with especial fondness a bright-green dragon), delighting at the wide-eyed gasps it would elicit from the little ones. It had been Frodo’s role to see to the dispensing of sweets from a large wicker basket, but who, he thought sadly, would be his assistant tonight? The confectioner’s shop in Bywater had delivered a goodly supply of sweets the previous day, but it wouldn’t be the same handing them out alone. He’d contemplated asking Sam to come up and help, but Sam might feel that his duty to his new master took precedence over any other Halloween plans he had already made, and Frodo didn’t wish to put him in an awkward situation.


It appeared that he would be on his own this year, and Frodo very much feared that he would prove an inadequate substitute for Bilbo. The plain truth was that Frodo’s heart really wasn’t in celebrating Halloween so soon after Bilbo had left the Shire. He missed the old hobbit dearly, especially at times like these. Frodo sighed and went to gather another armload of corn stalks from the garden. He would simply have to do his best. He couldn’t disappoint the children: trick-or-treating at Bag End was an event they looked forward to all year.


The clop of hooves and creak of harness caught his attention as he crossed the yard, and Frodo turned to see a familiar chestnut pony and cart coming into view up the Hill road. At the reins was Merry, and beside him sat Pippin, waving and shouting Frodo’s name. Frodo’s heart lightened at the sight of his beloved cousins, and he waved back, smiling. His smile widened when he noticed a third hobbit, sitting on the back of the cart, his legs dangling just above the ground: it was Sam, hitching a ride up from Number 3.


“What’s this?” Frodo asked, hurrying to the garden gate to meet them. “I wasn’t expecting you and Pippin today.”


“Ah, but that’s because we meant to surprise you, cousin,” said Merry, jumping down and tying the pony’s reins to the hitching post. “We’ve come to help you prepare Bag End for Halloween.” He gestured toward the cart, piled high with boxes and bags and crates.


“Yes, we thought you might need our help with old Bilbo gone,” added Pippin. “And Sam here volunteered to help, too.”


Frodo was touched almost beyond words. “Oh, bless you all,” he said in rather a choked voice. “I’ve been dreading today, you know. Bilbo loved Halloween so, and without him…” He couldn’t finish the sentence; the lump that had formed in his throat was too large.


Merry gave him an understanding look. “We know, Frodo. You don’t have to say another word. Now give us a hand with unloading the cart,” he said, clapping Frodo on the shoulder. “We’ve brought everything you could need, and then some.”


“Even your costume!” Pippin began struggling with a long rectangular box in one corner of the cart. Sam went to assist him and together they lifted it out and set it on the ground. “This is for you, cousin,” Pippin said, beaming. “Open it right away. I can’t wait for you to see it.”


“That’s an understatement,” Merry commented in a dry voice, “I don’t think he’s stopped talking about it for a moment since we left Tuckborough- except when he was eating. But it was all his idea, Frodo, and a very good one, at that.”


His curiosity roused, Frodo took the lid off the box and gasped. Inside was a perfect wizard’s costume: bushy white beard, pointed blue hat, staff with a crystal at the top and a little nook to hold his pipe, and voluminous grey robes. “Oh Pippin! This is wonderful,” Frodo exclaimed, holding up the hat. “I can’t wait to try it on.”


“Time enough for that,” said Merry sternly. “To work!”


***


The entrance hall at Bag End was filled with excited, chattering hobbit lads and lasses dressed as butterflies and puppies and flowers as well as the customary ghosts in white sheets and princesses with crooked tiaras. They were oohing and aahing over the decorations- carved jack-o-lanterns glowing eerily all around the darkened room; silver paper bats and black paper spiders dangling from the ceiling, twisting and turning and looking almost real; string cobwebs draped over the chandelier and across the windows. They were giggling at the costumes of Merry (a jester in harlequin robes and belled cap) and Pippin (a black cat with long curling whiskers that set off his bright green eyes). And, of course, being hobbits, they were drinking and eating. Hot, spiced cider and warm gingerbread cookies fresh from the oven were being consumed at a rapid rate, and the sweet basket had been replenished at least a dozen times. Sam, dressed as a scarecrow with straw sticking out of his collar and cuffs and wearing a floppy flowered hat that belonged to his sister May, was employing a very liberal hand in filling the little one’s treat bags.


Frodo, looking regal in his wizard’s costume and taking every opportunity to stroke his magnificent white beard, was now solemnly greeting a late-arriving group of children crying ‘trick or treat’, ‘trick or treat’ on the doorstep. He was doing his best to imitate Gandalf’s deep, gruff voice as he invited them inside, but when one of the children asked him if his beard itched, he broke down into helpless laughter. It had been that way all evening, ever since the first group of trick-or-treaters rang the bell and Frodo slowly opened the ominously creaking (courtesy of a cork wedged under the bottom hinge by Pippin) door.


“Look at him, will you?” Merry whispered to Pippin. “After Bilbo left, I was afraid Frodo might never laugh again.”


Pippin nodded. “I know. So was I. But we needn’t have worried, Merry. He’s a true Baggins after all. I don’t think even Bilbo could be enjoying himself more, or be more of a success with the children.”


As if he’d heard his cousins discussing him, Frodo finally left his post at the front door and joined them. “Well, I think that’s the lot of them,” he said, removing his hat and wiping his perspiring brow with a handkerchief. “Goodness, I don’t believe we’ve ever had so many children at Bag End before. What a crowd!” His blue eyes danced with delight as he looked around the room. “And I can never thank you enough, cousins, for everything you’ve done. Bilbo would be proud, I think.”


“Then you won’t turn us into toads, for having formed our little conspiracy?” Merry asked, laughing.


“No, indeed,” Frodo replied. A wicked sparkle came into his eyes, and he raised the staff. “But if Otho and Lobelia turn up, all bets are off.”


~end~